I made this half scale Katana from steel, brass, paracord, and wood. I worked on it through out the course of two weeks with a cost of about $12 dollars. It's a Christmas gift for my son. I'm sure one day he'll use it to strike fear in his bills but for now it will be a cool display on his bookshelf. The blade is about 11" long. Overall length is 16".
It was the most fun I've had creating something. I'm the guy who has to read every plaque at every historical site. Throughout this build, while referencing several pictures and videos, I got to read something interesting about nearly every part of a Katana. It was also fun to pull metal working, wood working, and knot tying all into one project.
Step 1: Project planning
How big is a Katana anyway? Apparently it varies by the height of the samurai. I knew I was going to use 1/2" flat bar so there was one dimension. With the help of ratios I figured out how long the blade should be if it's 1/2" wide.
From there I got together some other materials. I wasn't sure what all I would end up using but I had this to start.
Step 2: Setting the curve
Again, using ratios from measurements off of photos, I figured how much of a curve the blade should have. I started by over-bending in a curve. Then, I progressively closed the jaws of my vise as I feed the bar through. When the bar hit a spot where it would not freely move through, I slightly straighten the curve. I did this until the curve matched a measurement I drew on a plank of wood.
Step 3: Cutting the blade length
After settling on a length of 16" I used a chisel to part the bar. I then rough sketched the tip of the blade and parted that off too.
Step 4: Cutting the groove
I placed a ball diamond bit in my lathe and ran it up and down the blade. To refine the groove I rolled up sand paper and sanded it out.